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FCC Moves To Improve Educational Spectrum

The FCC has moved to open up a block of spectrum in the 2495-2690 MHz band, permitting educational institutions to continue leasing their airwaves for commercial usage. The FCC order also restructures the band to make its use more efficient.

The action is also aimed at opening up new opportunities for delivering wireless broadband by herding users into different band segments by separating them according to high- and low-power usage.

The FCC stated: "The new, more flexible rules will facilitate the growth of new and innovative wireless technologies and services, including wireless broadband services that have the potential to compete with cable and DSL broadband providers and to extend broadband service to rural and underserved areas."

The order, which was unanimously approved by all five commissioners, ties into the FCC's quest to find more fixed-wireless schemes to facilitate the delivery of broadband.

Prior to the approval, Clearwire Inc., a wireless company headed by mobile-phone pioneer Craig McCaw, had asked that licenses for the band in question be available for leasing, but not for sale. He said the prices to purchase the band outright were too costly for smaller companies. Much of the spectrum is already used by some 1200 educational institutions, which stand to continue to make some money by leasing their unused capacity to companies.